Lawmaker blasts visa 'loophole'

Local | Sophie Hui 12 Jul 2019

Mainlanders can use a single-entry permit known as the "G visa" to visit Hong Kong multiple times a week, making the "one trip per week" arrangement for Shenzhen citizens a complete failure, lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting said.

Since 2015, mainland authorities have adjusted the "multiple-entry" individual visit endorsement for permanent residents of Shenzhen, replacing it with the "one trip per week" individual visit endorsement, meaning Shenzhen residents can only visit once a week.

But they can also apply for the individual visit endorsements "G visa" to come here like other mainland residents in 49 cities under the individual visit scheme.

The endorsement is valid for three months or one year, and good for one or two visits.

However, Lam, of the Democratic Party, said frontline immigration officers told him mainlanders can actually visit multiple times a week.

After people completely exhaust the quota for the number of visits, they could renew their visas immediately. He said there are self-service kiosks at mainland ports, and it only takes three minutes and costs 15 yuan (HK$17) to apply for or renew the visas. Once completed, they can visit immediately, and he said it is common for mainland residents to use these self-service kiosks to renew their visas.

"There is no restriction on when people can apply for the visa again after they have used up the quota of the individual visit endorsement, meaning it allows residents who are holding an endorsement for individual visits in these 49 cities to visit an unlimited number of times," Lam said.

"So the so-called 'one trip per week' arrangement which targets Shenzhen residents has completely failed."

The loophole could lead to problems like parallel trading activities, illegal workers and prostitution.

Mainland residents can also use an endorsement for group visits, known as the "L visa," to visit Hong Kong.

Lam said he asked the Security Bureau about the "G visa" loophole in April, and it said mainlanders can apply for an endorsement of individual visits from mainland authorities as long as they meet the requirements.

It added that there were no restrictions on the time frame for applying for the visa again.

Lam said it is impossible for the bureau not to know about the loophole. He requested the bureau discuss the matter with the mainland and restrict the number of visits to no more than eight per year.

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